LHCode Academy was a learning experience for both our students and us. The goal for our students was to learn the basics of HTML and CSS and put together a small portfolio website. Given that the demographic was ages 5th to 7th grade, it proved to be challenging to explain some of the concepts. Margin vs. Padding, the hierarchy of styles, and SEO basics are all topics we chose to go over but ended up being difficult for our young students to understand.
Nevertheless, the students were excited to experiment with the colors and text styles. As well as that, we went over finding styles online, from websites like Codepen. Through the Internet, students could look at more experienced HTML or CSS code and implement it. Sometimes the students struggled heavily with implementing multiple styles as their code clashed, but this was an excellent opportunity to explain debugging. One of the most helpful tools was commenting out chunks of code and then slowly commenting out fewer lines until we could isolate the lines that were interfering with each other.
We chose HTML/CSS as our first bootcamp because of its simplicity and intractability. In languages like Python or Java, it’s much more difficult for students to understand how individual lines change the result of their code. We used Repl.it, an online IDE that provided live previews of the code that students wrote, bridging the gap between the program and its output.
With almost two dozen students, our first code bootcamp was a success. Based on the final websites created, our students were also successful in their path to learn HTML and CSS. In the future, we look forward to offering more options for students interested in bootcamps for programming.